Applications and Tools, Second Life

Mesh Is On Strategy for Linden Lab, But You Are Not a Creator

Allowing mesh imports into Second Life is on-strategy for Linden Lab and part of their broader ‘Fast, Easy, Fun’ mantra, according to Jack Linden with whom I appeared on last night’s Designing Worlds. (Video after the break).

I actually thought it was a good discussion, although I’m not sure I personally made a lot of sense, but that’s par for the course. It was only in the latter minutes of the show that Jack said something which felt like something more than ‘tech talk’.

One of the things that the Lab does astonishingly poorly is putting platform changes into a broader context. It’s one thing to understand the technicalities of LOD or whatever, and it’s another to understand how something like mesh imports fits into whatever broader strategy the Lab is pursuing. (Others have argued that the Lab doesn’t HAVE a strategy, something with which I disagree).

Jack got as close to I’ve heard from the Lab to something that aligns a technical change (mesh import) with a broader sense of where the Lab sees things heading (jump to the 50:00 mark).

“We understand how we want it to change both the in-world building behavior and quality of content….defining quality is incredibly difficult. In terms of our business goals, we have goals on the Marketplace and how we see people adopting things like mesh. We also have overall goals around everything from new user acquisition to retention to all the things you’d expect us to care about deeply.

So mesh is part of a much broader strategy around addressing the basics that we know have to be addressed. Philip’s talked about this, we talked about it at SLCC. Fast/Easy/Fun is very much at the heart of many of the projects that we have on our plate now. We recognize that there are core pieces of the Second Life experience that are not quite good enough and we have to resolve those things.

Mesh takes content to the next level. It takes us up to the point where there will be scenes created with mesh that are almost equivalent to anything you’ll see in other platforms. It does that in a way which I believe will be simple enough that it will still be within the reach of most people who really want to do that stuff.”

You Are Not a Creator
But Jack did something else, which was in response to my comment that mesh will shift creation outside of Second Life itself to external applications and programs. My argument is that one of the deep values of Second Life is that it’s a shared collaborative space in which we can create.

Mesh will have a cultural change in that the creation of content will not need to happen in-world.

Now, I’m not proclaiming that this is the end of the world – simply making the observation that there is a chance that people will stop making things in the world and make things instead to be brought into the world.

Without arguing whether this has meaning, Jack’s response echoed what Philip said to my after SLCC, and it looks like it’s going to be the standard messaging, and it goes something like this:

- People are already creating content externally using things like Photoshop for textures or creating animations outside of SL.
- So, mesh is no different really – we already have content created externally, so this doesn’t represent a fundamental shift.
- Besides which, there are actually very few content creators compared to content consumers.

I can’t emphasize enough how standard this language has become at the Lab.

In their view, there are the people who make stuff and sell it (a few hundred of whom make an OK living at it) and then there’s everyone else. And the ‘everyone else’ is where the bread is truly buttered.

I’ve come to believe that this represents a fundamental change in philosophy and strategy, or at the very least a change of attitude. Philip was very clear about this with me at SLCC: “Your World, Your Imagination” as a tag-line doesn’t make sense, he said – because most users don’t actually create the world, they’re consumers of content.

Hearing this echoed nearly word-for-word in what Jack said verifies that it’s now the conventional wisdom at the Lab: the goal is to attract content consumers and to recognize that yes, they might move some prims around to decorate their beach houses, but to call that content creation is erroneous.

I’m not entirely sure what the implications of this might be, other than the fact that it brings further clarity to “Fast/Easy/Fun” – the goal isn’t to get a new user to rez a prim, the goal is to allow them to “consume” the content of a more select or advanced group of users who make ‘stuff’.

Mesh Wednesday
Mesh hits the beta grid tomorrow. In announcing how it will work, the Lab will also announce an increase to the standard scalable prim size, putting an end to the “mega”.

Keep an eye on the Second Life blogs for more information. In the meantime, Jack gives some insight into how it’s being handled and what it will mean, and I throw in my own two cents, primarily I think so that there’s someone with a Canadian accent on the show:


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